10 Moments When It’s Okay To Talk To Strangers On Your Travels

10 Acceptable Moments To Talk To Strangers On Your Travels

Because travellers get saved by strangers too.

We’ve all been taught at a young age to never talk to strangers, weren’t we? But by now you know that this rule your parents set for you was more like a guideline than a principle, especially now that people are making travel happen more often. Travellers not only meet strangers along the way but also have to rely on the kindness of strangers from time to time. There are, of course, moments when you have to be extra careful.

So, when does the idea of talking to strangers stop being about keeping wary of people around you, and start being about simply experiencing it as part of travel? These are the times when it’s okay to talk to strangers on your travels.

Also read: How I Travelled With A Complete Stranger

1. When you have to small talk on the plane

When you have to ride a plane at the start of your journey and you’re travelling alone, sometimes small talk starts with whoever’s going to sit beside you. If you’re on a long-haul flight, God knows you’ll need someone to talk to. If not during the whole time, then at least when you’re incredibly bored. And there’s no need to be paranoid about it because you’re on the plane where your belongings should be relatively secure.

2. When you’re part of a tour

This one is pretty basic. When you’re part of a tour, it’s inevitable that you have to talk to your tour guide and fellow tourists who you share a tour with. It’s times like this when you realise that everyone else might just be the same as you — trying to be careful while still wanting to enjoy themselves.

After all, you’re in the same destination, booked the same tour, and will experience the same things. You have a couple of things in common already! And who knows? You might end up making lasting friendships with these people who you first called strangers.

3. When they say basic greetings

When locals of your destination stop and greet you “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon”, “Good Evening”, and the like, it wouldn’t hurt to return the cordial greeting. More often than not, the small talk ends there anyway, especially if you’re on the go.

4. When you talk over food

Imagine that you’re in a restaurant, eating and resting, after going around town the whole afternoon and the person sitting beside your table starts a conversation. “Hey, where are you from?” “How long are you staying here for vacation?” “How do you like the food so far?” Conversation starters like this, on top of the yummy food you’re eating, sounds friendly enough, right?

Usually, when people talk over food, there’s no harm in engaging in conversation. In fact, a lot of people bond over food and treat it as an icebreaker. The person who’s talking to you may just genuinely be friendly and accommodating to obvious tourists. So feel free to be polite and keep the conversation going.

5. When you’re lost

Okay, when you’re desperate and need to find your way, the best option is to go inside a store and ask for directions from the security guard, cashier or anyone inside. At least when you’re inside a store or any kind of shop, you’ll have shelter, space to think clearly, and people to ask for directions. Your last resort should be asking a random stranger on the street. Don’t get me wrong, asking a person on the street for directions often proves to be the fastest way to solve your navigation problems. All I’m saying is that if you have time to spare, ask a stranger inside an establishment instead.

6. When you seriously need a translator

If you’re travelling abroad in a country where you don’t understand the language, it’s okay to approach someone to translate for you. Yes, there is Google Translate, but if you don’t have access to the Internet, and you badly need to understand your map or the menu of a restaurant, you’ll have to rely on the kindness of a stranger to translate whatever it is you need. Nevermind the possibility that some people might just fool with you. For the sake of enjoying your trip, you can take the risk!

7. When you meet someone from the same country as you

Now, this is always a pleasant surprise. If you’re in a different country and you bump into your fellow countrymen, you almost can’t help but talk to them most especially in your native language, and that’s perfectly acceptable. We all get homesick at times to the point that if we meet a person from our own country, we actually forget that the person is a complete stranger. We’re willing to become instant friends, if only for a couple of minutes because you remind each other of home.

8. When you meet someone who has been to your country

Sometimes foreigners will be the one to approach you and ask where you’re from and tell you themselves that they’ve actually been to your country. They’ll tell you the things they enjoyed, their most memorable experiences, and might even ask you how your country is doing since they’ve left. Encounters like this abroad is one of the sweetest things because not only do you get to talk to a complete stranger about your country, but you get to know them because of your homeland.

9. When you’re haggling

It’s one thing to ask vendors in night markets or street bazaars how much an item costs, it’s another thing to continue the conversation because you’re haggling. Some people are too shy to haggle when they’re shopping for souvenirs, but here’s the thing. Remember that you’re talking to a complete stranger. An advantage of this is that when you haggle and somehow manage to get what you want at the cheapest price possible, they won’t even remember your thick face in the future. If you’re travelling on a tight budget, this is extremely useful.

10. When you want to know more about the area

If you’re on a DIY tour, talking to strangers will help you know more about the city or area you’re exploring. Actually, sometimes this is even a better way to explore your destination because you get to interact more with its locals on a deeper level. Remember that the locals in your destination are a part of the experience as much as the tourist attractions.

Also read: The Stranger Who Fed Us Xiao Long Bao

So you see, when you’re travelling, you can’t always be on stranger danger mode. There are a lot of perks in talking to people you don’t know. And sometimes, interacting with strangers can be the most memorable part of the trip.


About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.


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